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Ethiopian Air May Back Out of Deal with Nigeria’s Govt

With the ongoing court battle between the federal government of Nigeria (FGN) and the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Ethiopian Air is contemplating backing out of its deal with the FGN on Nigeria Air. According to an anonymous source, the move is to distance the company from any controversy that might affect its reputation.

Expressing displeasure at the build-up over the Ethiopian Air acquisition of the major stakes in Nigeria Air, the source said, “If this information gets to the Ethiopian Parliament, there is a possibility that the airline may back out.

Don’t be surprised that they will come out with a statement soon because they are also joined in the suit. I don’t think they will want to get involved in any controversies as they will want to save opportunities for future dates.”

Concerning the ongoing lawsuit, last week, Hon. Justice Lewis-Allagoa at the federal high court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered an interim injunction restricting the Federal Government and its partners from undertaking any action regarding Nigeria Air.

With the current outcome of the federal high court, Engr. Femi Adeniji, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Florida-based NIGAME Aircraft Consultancy Incorporation, said the decision taken by AON to legally fight the federal government was the right step on the right path. 

Adeniji believes that the whole acquisition process was not transparent, and the 49% stake of Ethiopian Air in Nigeria Air gives them autonomy over Nigerian domestic operators. He, therefore, requests that the same benefits given to Ethiopian Air should be accorded to domestic operators to create a balanced aviation system.

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The move of the federal government

With the possibility of Ethiopian Air backing out of the Nigeria Air project, the Ministry of Aviation, via its legal representative, asked Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to revoke its legal case against the airline.

According to the source from AON, “The ministry’s lawyers contacted our lawyer and wanted us to discuss and see the possibility of withdrawing the case out of court. I told my colleagues that any approach or appeal from the ministry should not deceive them. Hadi Sirika, the minister of aviation, is someone I know well. He will pull the carpet off your feet when you least expect it. He will come out with a Plan B, which will work against you in the long run. I told them to be vigilant.”

Since Ethiopian Airlines is a competitor of Nigerian airlines with numerous designations into Nigerian cities authorised by the Nigerian government,  Engr. Femi Adeniji asks what the federal government’s end game is in selling Nigerian Air to the East African country.

He said, “Why is this government all bent on the project? Is there any hidden agenda? To me, bad advice is the cause of all this. The corrupt intent would not allow the expertise working with the minister to give sincere business advice.”

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